I never expected it, but it arrived in the mail every year, for Valentine’s Day.
When I was young, my grandpa sent me my very own heart-shaped box of chocolates for the holiday, including a Valentine’s greeting card conveying his love for me.
I should’ve just received the gift with gratefulness, but instead I was disturbed. You see, he never sent a Valentine’s Day gift or even a card to any of his other grandchildren. Not even to my brothers.
I felt guilty and, ever the defender of the underdog, I was also a bit angry that he didn’t show the same amount of affection for them as he did for me. He even admitted that I was his favorite grandchild, which was quite an injustice, in my view.
I don’t think my brothers ever cared that they didn’t receive Valentine’s chocolates from that grandfather. They probably knew Grandpa loved them, too, but demonstrated it in other ways. Yet I had it in my head that if he loved them as much, he had to show it through a box of chocolates.
When it comes to something we need and want as badly as love, it’s easy to set the bar of expectations high.
Enter Valentine’s Day. An annual day set aside and recognized by our whole country to celebrate love. The expectation? That everyone who loves anyone will communicate that love in some tangible form on Valentine’s Day.
Enter the fear that hitches a ride on this otherwise lovely idea. What if the person you love doesn’t show you love on Valentine’s Day? Does that mean he or she doesn’t love you? Or maybe not as much as you thought?
What if you’re single and you don’t have anyone to show you love? Do you paste on a smile and give Valentines to friends instead, who probably won’t return the equalizing effort? Or do you hide away and binge on romance movies until the holiday is over, imagining what real love must feel like and knowing you’ll never have it?
Or maybe you’re the one who tends to bomb the love demonstrations on Valentine’s Day. In that case, you probably dread the holiday with the foreboding doom of one who knows she’s going to be sentenced to the wrath of the hurt loved one. Then you’re left worrying that your loved one might not love you as much as you thought, since that love seems dependent on a gift-giving litmus test.
So how can we enjoy Valentine’s Day instead of letting it ruin our February? After all, the celebration of love should be a good thing, right?
Married or single, child or adult, there is one full-proof way that you can take the fear out of Valentine’s Day and answer that “Loves me, loves me not,” question once and for all.
Dive into God’s love.
Yep. Simple, and yet not so simple.
If you’re like me, you might blaze through familiar passages in Scripture that tell us about God’s love. But how often do we slow down and stop on those words, really taking the time to understand, as much as we can, what they mean.
God apparently knows that about us, because He designed one of my favorite passages about His love in a way that seems tailored to force the reader to slow down and pay attention:
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father… that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3: 14, 17b-19
Catch the repetition of tangible measures? Notice the length of the sentence and abundance of words that call us to stop and dwell on the incredible meaning?
The Apostle Paul knows how much we need to know we are loved by God. He knows how much we need to comprehend the extent, uniqueness, sufficiency, limitlessness, and power of God’s love. That’s why he got on his knees to ask God to give that comprehension and understanding to the saints at Ephesus.
That’s why he wrote another passage also aimed at getting Christians to slow down and focus on comprehending God’s love:
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39
Did you get that? Nothing can or will ever end God’s love of us in Christ Jesus.
Like the Christians in Paul’s day, we need this understanding of God’s love. We need it at Valentine’s Day and all through the year. If we can begin to grasp even the smallest part of God’s love for us, the fears that others don’t love us will pale by comparison.
Single or married, we are the bride of Christ. Because of His love for us, God sent His son Jesus to die for us, paying the penalty for our sins so that we can live in His love for all eternity. Now that’s real love.
And that love is constant, never failing. His love is pure, never tainted or selfish. His love is demonstrated every moment of our lives, whether we choose to see it or not.
If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, then you don’t have to wonder if anyone else loves you or not. But, I know, it’s so easy to still crave the love of our fellow, fallen human beings. We want affirmation and confirmation that we matter. We want the answer to that frightening question—am I loved?
But every time we hear that question in our hearts, the only solution that will truly calm our fears is to dive deeper into His love. It’s written all over Scripture. Just do a search for the word, “love,” at an online database like BibleGateway.com. Or look up “love” in your Bible’s concordance. Then dive into the passages that remind you how much God loves you.
His love is written all over your life, too. Take time to stop and look back at your life, searching the concordance of your history for His love. Start with the day you’re living. If you look, you’ll see how His hand preserved you, how His strength bolstered you, how His providence orchestrated a million essential details, though you might only perceive two.
If you’re a lover of Christ, then the answer to, “Loves me, loves me not?” is an emphatic, undeniable “Yes!” God does love you, more than you can possibly imagine, and He ALWAYS will.
So as we head into Valentine’s Day, remember God’s amazing love that gives you the security to celebrate this special holiday without stress and fear, sharing the love of Christ with others every chance you get.
And enjoying a nice big box of chocolates sure won’t hurt.
Does Valentine’s Day cause you to stress or become depressed? Do you have a fun Valentine’s Day tradition? Please share!